by nathan oster
Greybull-Riverside turned in perhaps its best effort of the season over the weekend in Pavillion, putting four guys in finals and earning 137 points to finish in third place at the 19-team Don Runner Invitational.
For G-R, it may have been the result of a springboard effect from an effort earlier in the week in Powell. A perennial 3A contender under Nate Urbach, the Panthers dominated the Jan. 13 dual on the paper, beating G-R 53-12.
But Coach Mark Sanford found plenty of reasons for optimism, as his team won matches at 120 pounds, where Jorge Carmona was a 10-9 victor over James Moore; at 126, where Nick Schlattmann avenged an earlier loss with a 10-4 win over Marshall Wittick; and at 160, where Cole Hill made quick work of Justin Theriault.
Carmona’s win was a dramatic one, as he overcame a 9-5 deficit in the third by scoring a reversal and a near fall before time expired.
“It was a great match for Jorge,” said Sanford. “In the past, when in that situation, he’d often seem to mentally give up, and not do what he did in Powell. He battled great in that match. That’s what we have to do.”
While those were the team’s only victories, G-R was competitive in several others and won two of the evening’s four exhibition matches.
“We didn’t cower to them, and that’s the big thing,” said Sanford. “We scored points on some of their good kids. Yes, we got beat pretty bad and only won three matches. But as far as the wrestling goes, I didn’t feel bad about our effort.”
The good vibe continued at the Don Runner Invitational. With many of their top rivals from the 2A West in the field, G-R turned in an impressive showing, finishing with 137 points. Cokeville won it with 184, followed by Mountain View with 167.
Lovell and Rocky Mountain, two teams that defeated G-R at the recent Big Horn County Dual Championships, placed fourth with 135 points and fifth with 131 points, respectively.
“Our whole effort was really good,” said Sanford. “There were only about four kids who didn’t make a big step — and some of them made little steps. So overall, we really turned up the heat.”
One reason for the team’s improving fortunes might be the fact that Sanford is getting closer to being able send out the lineup he wants, with wrestlers entered in the weight classes where he believes they will enjoy the most success.
Tre Nelson had to work extra hard to make weight at 113, but his efforts paid off in the form of a second-place finish. He went 1-1, beating Trinity Nitchmen of Shoshoni in the semis before falling to Keenan Pfisterer of Wind River by 13-4 major decision. Sanford said Nelson turned in a great effort against Nitchmen, pinning him in 29 seconds. “He was the No. 2 seed going in, a quality wrestler, and I didn’t know if we’d be able to beat him,” said Sanford. “But credit to Tre. He caught him.”
Jorge Carmona went 3-1 and finished third at 120 pounds. The No. 3 seed going in, he opened with a major decision win before dropping a 9-2 decision to John Thoman of Wind River in the semis. Thoman was a third-place finisher at state last season. Carmona bounced back nicely, though, winning his next two matches over wrestlers from Rocky Mountain and Pinedale.
Alex Schlattmann earned fourth place at 126, going 4-2 for the weekend. Two of his wins were by pin. In a third, he scored a 6-4 win over Thermopolis’ Luciano Castle. But in the process, he sustained a hand injury, which forced him to default out of the third-place match.
Marshall Gibbs didn’t place at 132, but “he probably wrestled three matches as well as I’ve seen him wrestle,” according to Sanford. He was referring to a stretch on the backside in which Gibbs took down three straight Shoshoni wrestlers: Cole Cash and Raistlin DuBeau by fall and Tyler Boysen by 4-1 decision. “I thought that last match was a great match for Marshall,” said Sanford. “Probably the smartest match I’ve ever seen him wrestle.” Gibbs couldn’t quite make it four in row, losing his final match by two points to Kyle Bonner of Mountain View.
Ashton Wollam was ill, so G-R went with the Peoples brothers, Chase and Ryan, at 138. Neither placed, as Ryan went 2-2 and Chase 1-2. The two faced each other in the consolation bracket, with Ryan coming out on top, 5-2.
Matt Romero went two-and-out at 145, losing both of his matches by fall.
At 152, G-R got a nice effort from Tyler Wollam, who went 3-3. Two of his wins came via the pin. And two of his losses can be excused — one came at the hands of Rocky Mountain standout Tyler Lindquist, the other when he defaulted out of the fifth-place match due to an injury.
Morgan Wollam and Nick Schlattmann also gave it a go at 152, and while Wollam went two and out, Schlattmann did rack up a couple of wins, both coming by fall before he was put down by Tyler Wollam, 5-4, in his final match of the tournament. Sanford credited Schlattmann for making good strides, referring to his win over Ty Peterson of Rich County, the No. 3 seed at the weight.
Cole Hill won his quarterfinal and semifinal matchups to earn a spot in the 160-pound final opposite Cokeville’s Macen Peterson. Hill couldn’t get on track in that match, losing 11-0 to settle into second place.
With Anthony Eibert hurt, Jose Carmona again carried G-R’s hopes at 170. While the effort was there, he didn’t get the same results he did the previous week, losing his only two matches of the tournament, both of them by fall.
Lane Nielson, the No. 4 seed going in, got on a nice roll for G-R at 182, pinning his first two opponents, Justis Fisher of Big Piney and Ryley Smith of Rich County, before getting the tables turned on him in the final by Bowdy Long of Mountain View. Long — “a good thrower,” according to Sanford — scored the pin in 2:29.
Billy Jones made his return at 285 and didn’t disappoint, outpointing David Romero of Riverton JV and Jaret Collins of Lovell to earn a spot in the final opposite Galen LaGois of Shoshoni. In it, he made one mistake and paid for it, losing in 20 seconds. “We were going after it, but like Tre and Jorge did, we stretched out and reached for something that wasn’t there, and as a result, we got put on our back.”
Sanford called the tournament a step in the right direction for his team, noting that it was great to have Schlattmann and Nelson at their preferred weights. “Most of the kids made really nice strides,” he said. “Now the key is that we don’t take a step backward.”
The team won’t be going to Thermopolis this week and will instead make the trip to Moorcroft, where they will face off against teams from not only eastern Wyoming but also western South Dakota. “It’ll be fun to go wrestle some different kids,” said Sanford.